Meet Billie Quinlan: Founder of Ferly
By Zoe Greenwood, June 5 2020
With a mission to give womxn everywhere the knowledge and confidence for a healthy and pleasurable sex life, the Ferly app allows users to explore their body and mind with guided practices and sensual stories. We spoke to Billie Quinlan, founder of Ferly about her journey into the entrepreneurial world and the importance of sexual wellbeing.
Welcome Billie, great to have you here with us! Tell us a bit about Ferly – what was your inspiration behind it?
My co-founder and I met in 2018, we started chatting (loudly and angrily) about the lack of equality in health and especially in sexual health. We were angry because the two of us have navigated very negative sexual experiences and had to find our way back to pleasure without a community or the tools and techniques that would have made it easier. That’s when we decided to build Ferly. Our mission has always been to create a space for womxn to explore their sexuality and overcome sexual difficulties so that they can lead a healthy, confident and pleasurable life. The app provides the tools and techniques and our community creates a warm, loving space for radical vulnerability. We want to close the pleasure gap and create equality in the bedroom, as without this we won’t see true gender equality.
You often focus on how people feel about sex rather than the actual act itself – what does ‘sexual self-care’ mean to you and why is it important?
As a society we often reduce sex to the physical act but sexuality is so much broader than that. It’s a living, breathing part of who we are and really shapes our personality, relationships and the confidence we have as we move through the world. This is why it’s such an important part of our health and well-being. We focus so much on our physical well-being, increasingly more on our mental well-being and now it’s time to invest in our sexual well-being which is where sexual self-care comes from.
Even though it’s getting better, there’s still a huge stigma around female sexuality. How can we, as a society, become more acceptable towards this?
I read a really great piece the other day titled ‘The Taboo Is Over’. Whilst I don’t fully agree with that, we have seen a massive shift in western cultures over the last few years around how we talk about sex, the importance of pleasure and a celebration of female sexuality. T.V. are commissioning shows like Sex Educaiton, 2018 was coined the year of the pleasure revolution and last year Anna and I had a two page spread in The Times titled ‘How Mindful is Your Sex Life?’. We smash the taboo by normalising pleasure for all genders and the media we consume has a powerful role to play in this.
It’s often believed that the stigma comes down to how/what we’re taught in schools – What do you personally think of the sex education that we get when growing up?
For our generation, laughable. For the generations in school now, hopeful. However, families have a powerful role to play in our sex education which is why we believe Ferly has the ability to transform sex education for every age. If we can empower new and future parents to have a healthy, confident and pleasurable relationship to sex, they will become incredible role models for their children.
I noticed that you used ‘womxn’ across the website. Could you tell us a bit more about this?
The term Womxn is an alternative term for the English language word women to explicitly include non-cisgender women. Diversity and inclusion are hugely important at Ferly, we want to create a space that feels welcome and accessible to all folx.
People say starting a business is hard, is that true?
Yes! It’s all consuming but when you’re really clear on why you’re doing it and who you’re helping it pulls you through the tough times. Getting feedback like this is the most motivating thing in the world:
‘Just wanted to say a huge thank you for the amazing work you and the team do. I won’t bore you with a sob story but it’s been immensely helpful, with so many positive consequences on my life. It’s by far the best piece of tech and educational content out there. Your work is innovative and must take such a huge amount of courage and dedication. I hope you know it doesn’t go unnoticed.’
Did you face any difficulties in starting up your own business and challenges along the way?
So many. We were told many times at the beginning of our journey not to build Ferly, people would say ‘You’re two women talking about sex, you’ll never be taken seriously’. But again, if you have a really clear ‘why’ and you know who you’re building for then you can block some of that noise out.
Let’s talk about COVID-19. It’s a time where many of us don’t feel like ourselves. How have you been managing and what advice would you give to readers who are struggling to connect with themselves personally and mentally?
Pleasure at a time like this can feel frivolous or indulgent but it’s incredibly powerful for our well-being due to the endorphins it releases. If you’re feeling disconnected, stressed or anxious try exploring your body and create space for self-pleasure. Make a date with yourself, turn on your favourite music, have a nice bath/shower, moisturise your skin, light some candles, climb into bed and mastubate. There are beautiful practices on the app that are perfect for a time like now:
– Body Mapping
– The Cabin
The most important thing is to find joy in your life right now, so do whatever makes you happy.
Personally, we believe that having a good routine when staying at home is super important. Do you have a particular routine that you follow?
No, I try to be a bit more intuitive than that. I like to tune into my body and listen to what it needs. Sometimes that means working late into the night because I’m in flow. Other times I finish early, go for a walk and read my book. There are a few important things that I like to include in my week, how I fit them in depends on how I feel. These include: 8 hours sleep, exercising, eating lots of fruit & veg, reading my book and dating my bf (we live together but still try and date during lock down).
If there was one beauty treatment in the world that you could have right now, what would it be?
A FACIAL! I’m desperate for one. I’ve been buying crappy supermarket face masks as a substitute but it’s nothing like the real thing. I want to have someone massage my face!!
“Powerfully beautiful” is our motto at LeSalon, because we believe in beauty and selfcare that helps you feel more powerful to achieve your goals. We know beauty means something different to everyone, and don’t believe in a vision of beauty that is imposed on ourselves. Is there anything that you do that makes you feel powerfully beautiful?
I love this motto and I love what LeSalon stands for, I’ve actually used your service and it was brilliant! Dancing makes me feel powerfully beautiful. I put on some 90’s r’n’b, go for a walk, dance like a mad woman and come home smiling. This simple act of self-care lifts me up so much, it brings me back to myself in such a powerful way and reminds me how amazing the body I live in is.